Looking at assisted living facilities is a big decision. As you weigh it against family caregiving, here are three ways your loved one would benefit that you may not have considered.
"People think that when someone moves into assisted living, they let go of all of their independence," says Britt Kane, Community Relations Coordinator, Highgate at Bellingham. "In reality, by joining an assisted living community, they actually gain independence." For example, they don't need to rely on family, friends or neighbors to take them places. If they need to go to the doctor, want to go to the store or go to a movie or play, they aren't at the mercy of someone else's schedule. There are vehicles and drivers right on site to take them wherever they need to go.
Independence also means that residents have time to enjoy interests without the worry of housework, home maintenance, and yard work.
A Life of Meaning
There is so much we can learn from seniors about how to live a life of meaning. But that doesn't mean every senior currently finds their life meaningful. Life changes – such the loss of a spouse or a disease that makes walking more difficult – can make it easy to lose your connection to what gets you up and out of bed every day.
To connect residents to what gives them meaning, we need to know what makes them “tick.” "A unique thing about Highgate is the life enhancement interview," says Kane. "When someone moves in, the Life Enhancement Coordinator takes the time to get to know them, their personality, likes and dislikes, what brings them joy. It’s very personal so that, for example, when we have happy hour, we know that this person loves to socialize and would love that. When there’s a game of cribbage, this person is an avid card player. We get to know them on a personal level, so we know how to plug them into what’s happening."
A Connected Community
To be our happiest, healthiest selves, we need to be connected to others. It's especially easy for seniors to become lonely and isolated which can lead to depression, poor nutrition, and lack of purpose.
In assisted living facilities, seniors are surrounded by their peers, which ensures that they build and maintain quality relationships. There are a multitude of opportunities for social interaction.
For introverts, having people nearby is reassuring, whether or not they choose to take part in group activities or socialize. It allows them the solitude they crave without the dangers of isolation. Additionally, at Highgate, staff regularly check in to be sure they’re OK.
Staying connected to others has other benefits. According to the National Institute on Aging, "Researchers found a relationship between more frequent social activity and better cognitive function. It is not clear whether improved cognition resulted from the social interaction itself or from related factors, such as increased intellectual stimulation, that generally accompany social interaction."
Whether it's independence, a life of meaning or having a connected community, for many, life is much richer, happier and healthier as part of an assisted living community.
If the world of assisted living is new to you or you have questions about what assisted living has to offer, check out The Definitive Guide to Assisted Living Facilities!